By Amrita Pritam April 1996 Jnanpith Award-winning poet and writer, Amrita Pritam has always lived her life with intensity. But in the past few years this intensity has taken a new turn. Her recent books such as Kaal Chetna (Time Consciousness) and Agyat Ka Nimantran (Call of the Unknown) are a testimony to that. Interestingly, she calls dreams a ‘contact with realities in another dimension’ We present here some of the dreams the has had and the poems they inspired: It was becoming night when in a lonely place, suddenly, someone came to me and said: ‘Sai Baba is calling you.’ I looked toward him in surprise, not recognizing him when he came and asked: ‘Which Sai? Shirdi Sai? He doesn’t know me, so has he himself called and asked for me?’ He nodded ‘yes’ and a mad feeling ran through my whole body. The stranger indicated a direction and I ran that way quickly. There was a rather dark place where Sai was seated on the ground. I greeted him silently. When I came nearer, he raised his head and looked at me, and asked: ‘Why are you so sad?’ I stood absolutely still in front of him, and answered: ‘Sai, what can I do? There are lies all around me everywhere I turn.’ This was the only question and the only answer. Then the dream was over. This happened in 1999, in the early hours of March 14. When I woke, I was astonished, but happy. And for almost a year, I was under the spell of this question—that Sai had been concerned with my well-being. Almost a year passed and much later,one day, I was lighting some incense in front of Sai Baba when I sensed that I was not the one holding the stick of incense, but had myself become the incense, the incense that wanted to burn at the shrine of Sai. And this whole experience came to life, word by word, and set itself down on paper. Sai, please give me a little bit of fire from your chillum… I am your incense and for a little while will burn at your shrine.I have kneaded your passion into my own clay.When this body smolders, smoke will rise.This body’s smoke will flicker and will say only this much-Whatever breezes pass through’ these touch your breath, I want to become one with those breezes. Sai, please give me a little bit of fire from your chillum…..I am your incense and for a little while will burn at your shrine.No, I won’t say anything.When the incense burns a delicate fragrance will say something in a whisper and then my body, turning to ashes, will touch your feet. It must become one with the earth of your shrine. Sai, Please give me a little bit of fire from your chillum….I am your incense and for a little while will burn at your shrine. In 1994, in the month of July, there was a night when an ashram appeared before my eyes in a dream. At an earlier time, I had seen some ashrams, but this time I knew that this ashram belonged to Sai. And I realized also I was staying there. I saw some other people there but was unable to recognize them. When I woke, my senses told me that in this birth Sai had no ashram. He had sat under a tree for years. Then, he stayed in the ruins of a masjid (mosque). What I’d seen must have been from an earlier life. Some days passed till the night of July 30, when Sai appeared in a dream and said: ‘Yes, there was an ashram. Its name was Savit Ketu. That was 256 years ago.’ This was the dream in which I could glimpse that ashram even while awake. Where was it? I couldn’t find out but I could see it. This obsession flowed in my veins. This state of madness was burning in my veins, and then this sensation of burning found itself in my words. Hidden from view behind the hillsa stream was flowingI would go and bring waterto your shrine from that stream. That day it was the same waterand like every day, I filled your bowl,setting it by your meditation place. I don’t know when it happenedbut this much I know—late that evening,feeling very thirsty, I took a sip from that bowl.The same one I had set there by your place. As if I’d taken a sip of fire.The night was very cold.But a burning current streamed through my veins.Restless, I sat outside in the open air.When the reddish glow of this sunrise cameI went to the stream.Sensing something in its breast,waves broke on the surface of the streambut taking control of the torrent, she said:Don’t ask me about this, ask the bowl.Come and tell mewhatever the bowl says! Hidden from view behind the hillsa stream was flowingI would go and bring waterto your shrine from that stream. That day it was the same waterand like every day, I filled your bowl,setting it by your meditation place. I don’t know when it happenedbut this much I know—late that evening,feeling very thirsty, I took a sip from that bowl.The same one I had set there by your place. As if I’d taken a sip of fire.The night was very cold.But a burning current streamed through my veins.Restless, I sat outside in the open air.When the reddish glow of this sunrise cameI went to the stream.Sensing something in its breast,waves broke on the surface of the streambut taking control of the torrent, she said:Don’t ask me about this, ask the bowl.Come and tell mewhatever the bowl says! Sai, I don’t know in which cycle of time this happenedbut this much I know—Whatever happened, it happened at your shrineand I knowwhen such things happenthey are beyond time.And look—after passing beyond many deathsthat sip of fire still lives in my body. In a state of madness, I didn’t know if Sai‘s ashram was within me or I in his ashram. In my memory, every twig around Sai‘s shrine was blooming and I could see the mountain stream where I used to go to get water for the shrine. There was some light from within, so that I could see a cave. Earlier, I had caught glimpses of the cave many times, but not like this. Now, the cave wanted to enfold me in its arms. The distance between one death and birth—I saw spread before my feetand saw— that on the other sidethere was a cave.How far away it was—I didn’t know…at a distance of not one, but several deaths,perhaps. But it felt…as if it were calling back some memory. Then the season of awareness changed—the cave became lost in darkness…and when the sharp wind of memory blewruffled and scatteredevery black cloud of death. Then once again on the other sideThere appeared a cave. God only knows! at which instantand through which Pir’s grace it wasthat I passed through the darkness of every deathand reached the mouth of that cave…The leaves of the wilderness ran towards meand greeted my like long-lost friends.A spring took a handful of waterand sprinkled it on my forehead.An awakening took form andled me by the hand into the cave… If worshipcan be called passionthen I can tell you—that cave was the shrine of my passion…If a flat stonecan be called a marriage-bedthen I can tell you—it was there that the five elements were wedded. If the limbs of the bodyare the flowers of worshipthen I can tell you—that the cave was filled with the fragrance of flowers. I still can’t rememberwhen I got back…And now—I am standing again,at a distance from several deaths… But this much I know—that the thread of my awarenesspassed through many deaths and entangles my being.And even todaya part of this beingburnslike the diya flame of the shrine.
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